Posted by Thelma Marshall, VP of Solutions, October 6, 2020

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Providing more opportunities for women in manufacturing is critical to the future of this industry and the economy. One of the greatest challenges facility managers encounter is how to attract, develop, and retain top-performing manufacturing talent. Sometimes, the obvious solution— seeking qualified female applicants — isn’t a common consideration.

Staffing issues, of course, are not limited to manufacturing. Across the supply chain, there is a labor shortage, and warehouse and distributions centers are no exception. But, women constitute one of manufacturing’s largest pools of untapped talent. While women totaled 47% of the U.S. labor force in 2016, they represent only 29% of the manufacturing workforce.

The question is, what can be done to ensure that manufacturing and other supply chain enterprises not only find the talent required, but attract and support the success of qualified female employees?

Start by looking at the current pool of female leaders. Seek out trailblazing female leaders in manufacturing or other supply chain industries and ask for their guidance and recommendations.  Look at current and previous colleagues and coworkers to refer talent to you.

Though women constitute less than one-third of manufacturing workers, those women proudly serve as mentors in the manufacturing industry and can help inspire other women entering the field.

Attracting the best talent

Make no mistake, to attract the best applicants, your enterprise needs to provide a positive work environment. Applicants you interview will size up what your enterprise has to offer them– including the importance of safety, team work culture, and how technology plays a role in everyday operations.

Essentially, the talent you attract is often based on if your business offers support and incentives and if it deploys technology that makes goals obtainable. A company that leverages data insight and proactively addresses potential problems before they happen is very attractive.

Many applicants will probably have had previous experience with automated and computerized processes for things like routing and inventory control. They may be more familiar with how to do the job efficiently with the help of telematics as opposed to without it. 

Expand the search

Here’s a few other ways to solve staffing challenges and find the best candidates. 

  1. Cultivate relationships with a few local training programs so you are familiar with their processes and their graduates. Look for those that go beyond OSHA basics and ask what they do to recruit more females into the program.
  2. Consider candidates with easily transferable skills. Veterans, project managers or workers with large vehicle experience often pick up forklift skills quickly, and can be a good fit. Also ask if the candidate has any experience with telematic information and how to use it.Look at talent that aligns with your organization’s objectives.
  3. Consider hiring from within. Often the best candidate from the job is someone who is ready to move up – which helps with retention – and has developed basic knowledge about the position. Perhaps training or mentoring may be needed, but this can be a recipe for motivation and success, especially for female employees.

Women in manufacturing have been inspiring others to follow them for generations. From the factory floor to the C-suite, it is time for more supply chain enterprises to alter the search criteria to seek out female job applicants.


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